Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, September 25, 2011

His Holy Hands

Look at your hands and consider their importance. Think about what you can do with your hands. I’m using mine right now as I write to post on the blog. Yesterday I employed my hands in work around my house. They were busy all day dusting, vaccuming the floors, preparing meals, feeding myself, washing dishes and countertops, putting clothes in the washing machine and dryer, folding clean clothes; my hands stayed busy all day. What would I have done without my hands?

I recall times in the past when my hands offered protection and comfort for my children. “Hold Mommy’s hand,” I said as we crossed the street. “Come here to Mommy,” I said when tears fell after falling off their bikes. My hands felt foreheads for temperatures and they spanked little hands in discipline. Two years ago my hands held our first grandchild. What would I have done without my hands?

What did Jesus do with His hands? He opened the book of Isaiah, read from it and pronounced the fulfillment of the Word (see Luke 4:17-21). After healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever, He began laying hands on the sick and healed them (see Luke 4:38-40) He stretched out His hand, touched a leper, and willingly cleansed him (see Luke 5:12-13). On the Sabbath, against the laws of the Pharisees, Jesus told a man with a withered hand to stretch it out and as he did so, Jesus restored the man’s hand (see Luke 6:6-10). His hands fed himself as He ate with sinners and tax collectors (see Luke 5:27-32). He touched a coffin carrying a dead man and said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak (see Luke 7:12-15). He handled five loaves and two fish, blessed and broke them, and fed a multitude of people (see Luke 9:16-17). Jesus prayed continuously and I’m sure He lifted His hands in praise to His heavenly Father (see Luke 6:12, 9:18, 10:21, 11:1-4). He took a cup and some bread, gave thanks, and instituted what we now call Holy Communion (see Luke 22:17-20). That very night He used His hands to wash His disciples’ feet, teaching them about servanthood (John 13:3-5). He allowed the Romans and Jews to crucify Him, extending His hands to be nailed to the tree (see Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:33, John 19: 5-19). Jesus utilized His hands in service. He accomplished His work with His hands.

The risen Christ appeared to His disciples, startling them saying, “Peace be to you. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” He showed them His hands and His feet and He asked for something to eat. The disciples gave Him a piece of broiled fish, He took it, and ate it. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and all that had occurred to Him. He declared them witnesses and told them that once they were clothed in power, they would be sent forth to tell others the good news. Before He left them, He led them out to Bethany, lifted up His hands, and blessed them. Then He ascended to heaven, leaving them worshiping Him and praising God continually in the temple (see Luke 24:35-53).

Are you having doubts about the work of Jesus’ hands upon your life or that of your children? Just as Jesus used His hands to pour out blessings on many people, including His disciples, He also does the same for us. God’s word tells us about His work for us in heaven.....but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:12 (NASB) Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NASB) Jesus, the great High Priest, sits in glory at the right hand of God and prays continuously for us. Now that’s good news! God even foretold this good news to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NASB)
The names of the tribes of Israel were inscribed on the stones on the ephod of the priest (see Exodus 28:9-12). Once the priest was in the temple, God would be reminded of His covenant with Israel when He saw the engraved names on the ephod. In the same manner, God sees our names inscribed on the palms of the hands of our great High Priest Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God, and He remembers His promises to us. Our names and those of our children are forever before God and His thoughts are focused on our welfare.
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
Psalm 40:5 (NASB)
His holy hands, pierced for our sins, always embrace remembrances of us. Those same hands guide, protect, and even discipline us. Why should we have any doubt about the work of His hands in our lives or even the world? After all, the song says “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” What would we do without those hands! Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

God's Marvels

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19 (NASB)
Have you ever doubted the existence of God? Have you ever experienced His silence? Have you ever cried out, “Where are you, God, and why is this happening to me?” Most of us can probably answer one if not all of those questions with a resounding “YES!” Yet God’s answer resounds daily!
Our Bible study group meets regularly every Wednesday before school. We’ve been meeting for six years. We enjoy some great conversations, but one Wednesday morning in particular, God’s Word blessed us with power. As we finished our lesson, someone yelled, “Come and look out the window!” As we all congregated around the window, we stared at a most extraordinary sight. Suspended in the heavens over the subdivision across the road was a double rainbow. What a breathtaking sight! It felt as though God spoke to us while creation confirmed His existence, saying “Well done, good and faithful servants!” Matthew 25:21, 23 (NKJV).
Just recently our MP group met after school, beginning our discussion with Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw the glory of God in the temple, overwhelmed by his own sin. God took away his sin and sent him out as a prophet to the Israelites. We realized that we can’t make a difference in the world or the church unless our own temple, our bodies where God dwells once Christ enters our hearts, is cleaned-up and forgiven. As we continued our Bible study, the power of God filled the room and tears flowed as we felt His firm, yet loving conviction, not condemnation. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NASB) We left there full of God’s glory and ready for mission. God’s Word and the stirring in our hearts confirmed that His presence sat with us while we drew closer to Him.
During the time of my daughter’s years as a prodigal, my daddy died. Overcome with grief, I wondered why all that pain invaded my life. I didn’t receive an answer but I knew in my heart that Jesus held me close because I felt His healing salve cover my wounds. Words of love and grace from friends confirmed His presence in my life.
God’s existence is celebrated every day in creation. All around the earth creation glorifies our supreme God. The sun consistently rises each day, even when we can not see it. What a wonderful reminder of Jesus Christ, the Son, who is always with us, who says in Hebrews 13:5b (NKJV), “I will never leave you nor forsake you. God also said it to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8 (NKJV). Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you....And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. All these words are spoken by our faithful God who is always with us! Below are my words to Him when He confirmed His presence to me in the midst of my pain.
The Son Still Shines

Here on earth it’s dark and dreary.
Clouds are looming and I am weary.
The rain comes down alongside my tears,
But I know the Son is still shining!

Above the clouds, from the view in a plane,
Looking around, there is no rain.
The heavens shine brightly all around,
Because the Son is still shining!

As days go by, darkness will loom.
Its power will pull to the place of gloom.
Each day gives way to a multitude of trials,
But I know the Son is still shining!

Thanks to Jesus who died on the cross,
And arose to glory! Let’s lift off the dross.
Hope abounds in heaven and on earth,
Because the SON is still shining!

DDC Oct. ‘05

Psalm 19 gives us a perfect picture of God’s revelation in creation as well as His Word. It causes us to remember the times that we’ve stared at a sunrise or gazed at a full moon. Nothing is left to speculation; creation screams the existence of God. His Word converts our souls, forgives our sins, gives us wisdom, enlightens our minds, disciplines our wrongs, fills our hearts with joy, and continually reminds us of our faithful, loving God. It’s sweeter than honey, we are told. It causes us to contemplate our lives, desiring to be righteous as God is righteous. May we pray together every day the words of David in verse 14:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Light Within

The house is quiet and all are asleep. Suddenly the security alarms blares loudly and frightens us as we struggle out of bed. Could someone be in our house? We can’t turn on the light or the intruder might see us. Our telephone promptly rings as the alarm company is checking on us to uncover any problem. “I’ll stay on the line and send police if you need them,” the woman calmly replies. My husbands grabs the baseball bat that rests on the floor against his side of the bed and moves toward the hallway. I lag behind him, phone in hand, fearfully inching my way into the darkness. The street light assists us as we apprehensively fumble around the house, searching every closet and corner for a trespasser. “Nothing!” I respond into the phone. She replies that possibly a moth flew across the path of the monitor beam, setting off the alarm. Trembling with uneasiness, we return to bed for a fitful night’s sleep.

The night that our house alarm went off frightened us tremendously. Anyone would be scared. But why let that feeling linger once everything appeared safe? Because I continued to focus on my circumstances. Instead of believing in God’s promises, I worried needlessly with all my “what ifs”. Here is a promise that should have been buried in my heart:
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

Life is ominous at times. We may struggle with finances, an impending divorce, a prodigal child captive in a “distant land,” a tornado or hurricane approaching, joblessness, even death. As Christians how do we endure? How do we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that deep dark distress enveloping our lives? We focus on Jesus, the Light within our hearts, and allow His promises to illumine our lives. We believe with faith in the Word of God, His Son Jesus Christ. We regularly read His Word and bury those promises deep in our hearts. When pain arrives, and it surely will, we are not caught off guard. We know who we trust and we stand firm on His Word. It only takes a small amount of light to dispel gloom. Read the passages below and permit them to shine into your dark corner.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.....
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:2,6-7 (NIV)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Psalm 23 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46 (NIV)
For You light my lamp;
The LORD my God illumines my darkness.
For by You I can run upon a troop;
And by my God I can leap over a wall.

As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:28-30 (NIV)

Darkness cannot overshadow the light of Christ. Let the light within your heart brightly shine so you and others can focus on nothing but the power of God!
Please lift up in prayer this week all those affected by the events of 9/11 ten years ago.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Divine Love

Do you remember the first time your child broke your her words pierced your insides or his “NO!” pummeled your gut? The rebellious words stung with intensity—so much for the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ Not only spitting hurtful words, but the fact that your own child would oppose you crushes something deep inside. How can someone whom you love and provide for rise up against you? Imagine how God, our Creator, feels!
How deeply does God feel? Does our Creator and Redeemer ache from our rebellion? Of course He does! He created us for relationship. He sent His Son to die for us so that we might be saved to live with Him in eternity. Read Ephesians 3:16-19 (NKJV) to discover how much God loves us.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God’s feelings for us are profound and His Word continually reminds us of His love. Read of His love for Israel through Hosea, God’s prophet who demonstrated God’s love by loving an adulterer. As you read about Israel’s rebellion, remember the pain you’ve felt when your own child refused to obey you. God feels the same pain (maybe more) when we turn from Him.
The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1 (NIV)
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
“Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates
and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me. Even if they call to the Most High,
he will by no means exalt them.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim?
My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath. Hosea 11:1-9 (NIV)
How would we react if more than just our children opposed us? Would we be filled with compassion or anger for those people? What feelings determine our reactions? God’s love and mercy always guides His reactions. He is God and His ways are not like ours.
“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
Praise God for His love and mercy! His ways, thoughts, and emotions are unfathomable to His creatures; they are so much higher than our own emotions. We can get a taste of His feelings when we read His Word. Feel His intense grief over the defiant choices of His children:
“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I was found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’
To a nation that was not called by My name.
I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in a way that is not good,
According to their own thoughts;
A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;
Who sacrifice in gardens,
And burn incense on altars of brick;
Who sit among the graves,
And spend the night in the tombs;
Who eat swine’s flesh,
And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
Who say, ‘Keep to yourself,
Do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!’
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day. Isaiah 65:1-5 (NKJV)
Now experience His passionate love as He delights over them:
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

“ Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:16-17 (NKJV)
God deeply loved Israel. He loves us all with zeal and passion. His crucifixion proves His intense love. He loves us like a parent loves her own child, even more so. Remember His emotions the next time you “mess up.” His heart may grieve, but if you turn back to Him and seek Him with all of your heart, His delight will be ecstatic as He washes you in His grace.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a maiden,
so will your sons marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:1-5 (NIV)
Thank you for your mercy, Father God!